In another sign of recovery for the post-COVID economy, the U.S. PR industry saw impressive growth in 2021, according to an annual industry survey conducted by PR merger and acquisition consultancy Gould+Partners.
The Gould+Partners’ report, which focused on net revenue growth—calculated as fees plus mark-ups—found that North American PR agencies saw average net-revenues gains of 17.7 percent in 2021, a complete turnaround when compared to the meager 3.1 percent growth the sector yielded in COVID 2020, which was the lowest growth year since Gould+Partners began tracking this data a decade ago.
Firms of all sizes surveyed in the study—from the largest PR shops to the smallest—reported increased net revenues, according to the survey. Firms bringing in between $10–$25 million in annual net revenues were the most profitable last year, growing an incredible average of 24.7 percent. The largest PR shops—or agencies boasting more than $25 million annually—also saw big gains in 2021, at 17.2 percent. The smallest firms polled—those with under $3 million in net revenues—grew at an average of 16.4 percent. Firms with net revenues between $3–$10 million saw growth of 15 percent.
“What this report validates is that, contrary to what may be happening on a national level, that we are in a ‘recession,’ the PR industry is not in a recession and, if anything, is on a growth trajectory,” Gould+Partners Managing Partner Rick Gould told O’Dwyer’s. “Every indication I have had, based on our three major surveys, and discussions with PR firm executives, is that 2022 will be another year of growth and profitability.”
The Gould+Partners report also found that among ten regions ranked, PR firms stationed in Northern California grew the most in 2021 (27 percent), followed by firms located in the U.S Southwest (24 percent), Southern California (22 percent), the Washington, D.C. area (20 percent), the New York metro area (17 percent), the U.S Northeast (16.8 percent), the Midwest (15.4 percent), the Northwest (13 percent), the Southeast (12 percent) and Canada (8 percent).
Gould+Partners’ 2022 “Net Revenue Growth Report” was based on responses from 241 PR agencies located across North America.
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